Russia boasted about Putin’s flight on the Tu-160M ​​missile carrier: what kind of plane is it?

The engines of these aircraft have a very short working life, the expert says.

Putin flew for half an hour on the Tu-160M ​​missile carrier / Photo - UAC

On Thursday, February 22, Russia announced that dictator Vladimir Putin had flown on a modified Tu-160M ​​missile carrier. He was shown four aircraft at once: two of them were modernized, and two more were assembled from Soviet “blanks”, but were never delivered to the Russian Ministry of Defense.

As aviation expert Anatoly Khrapchinsky told Focus in a commentary, it is now impossible to say what kind of work Russia is doing on the Tu-160M, since official statements may contain propaganda. However, he noted that these aircraft have a very short service life.

“On my part, there is an understanding that there is a need for improvement. If we are talking about modernization, then this is an improvement of the carrier vehicles, that is, engines. Because they have a very short working life. There are NK-32 engines, they have only about three thousand hours of service life and a thousand hours between overhauls. Although, again, the Russian media continue to talk about how they have increased the service life to one thousand five hundred, etc. But it’s hard for me to believe this, taking into account the losses that have occurred since the 90s years. Next is avionics, the entire radio-electronic part must still change, because we need to keep up with the times,” he said.

At the same time, the expert noted that, given the limitations, it is difficult to say whether the Russians will be able to supply better equipment and electronic warfare or radio intelligence equipment to replace the existing one. In addition, he is convinced that this is not about new engines. According to Khrapchinsky, we are talking more about repairing the Tu-160M ​​to extend its service life, rather than about modernization.

“I would call this just a routine repair that will help them continue to operate them, because let’s go back to what happened in 1991. Then some of the planes were cut up as part of the weapons reduction program between the United States and the former countries of the Soviet Union. And those planes that remained, they were with limited resources,” he added.

According to data from open sources, the Russian Federation has about 15 Tu-160 aircraft, of which it is unknown how many are in combat readiness. Eight of them were received from Ukraine. But instead of the Tu-160M ​​White Swan, the enemy more often uses Tu-95 bombers to attack Ukraine. And there is a reason for this.

“Why do they use the old Tu-95? Because you can use them “both tail and mane” and not be afraid, because they have enough service life. They have NK-12 engines for 33 thousand flight hours. They are not very similar downright whimsical. They installed pylons so that they could hang the X-101 missiles, because they did not fit inside, as they were being prepared for the X-55 or X-555 missiles, which are much smaller. This significantly worsened the aerodynamics of the aircraft. This loaded the wing and engine. And they talked about it, that it is necessary to modernize, change and strengthen the wing,” explained Khrapchinksky.

Tu-160M: characteristics of a missile carrier

Russia says it is using advanced avionics and updated NK-32-02 engines to modernize the Tu-160M ​​aircraft. Propagandists also say that missile armament will be replenished – they want to integrate “hypersonic” missiles onto missile carriers.

As for the technical characteristics of the Tu-160M, its range of action is up to 5,500 kilometers. The missiles may be Kh-101/Kh-102, Kh-55SM, Kh-555.

The maximum speed of the aircraft is 2200 km/h, and the maximum flight ceiling is 16 km. At the same time, the maximum take-off weight of the missile carrier is 275 tons.

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